A MelanieM Review: Merry Christmas, Josh! (A Josh of the Damned Free Ficlet) (Josh of the Damned #4.5) by Andrea Speed


Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Merry Christmas, Josh coverIt’s looking like another crappy Christmas for Josh, especially when he has to share the store with a creepy Santa cutout. But the surprise arrival of a snowman gives Josh a little holiday cheer, along with his vampire boyfriend of course!  Merry Christmas, Josh, indeed!

Merry Christmas, Josh is a funny, free ficlet (say that fast) from Andrea Speed.   It’s Christmas time in the warped and wonderful world (alliteration abounds) of Josh of the Damned and he’s not a happy boy.  Seems that Christmas is full of miserable memories and malignant melodies for Josh and its enough to make him crabby and cross.But a very peculiar and cantankerous  snowman arrives and changes the way Josh will forever look at the holidays.

Only 18 pages long, Merry Christmas, Josh, contains some of the characters,weirdness, and snark that epitomizes this series while bringing in some of the poignancy and sadness also associated with the holidays for some people, in this case Josh.  Sad childhood memories and the forced gaiety (as well as one awful cardboard Santa) of the season have Josh in a crabby frame of mind, one that some share at this time of the year.  Josh is that voice of sanity and reason (sort of) in the convenience store from Hell and that juxtaposition continues to make this a wonderful story and series.

I wish we had seen more of the characters like the Yeti and a tooth fairy or two but at 18 pages you can only bring in so many characters.  This is a fun, quick read.  And for those of you new to the Josh of the Damned series, it should give you a taste of the characters and wonderfully bizarre universe(s) they inhabit.  It’s free at Riptide Publishing.   So don’t forget to run over there and pick it up today!

Happy Reading.

Cover artist did a wonderful job.  Love that cover.

Free at Riptide.  See the link above

Visit the Series page at Riptide for all the stories in the Josh of the Damned Universe


Book Details:

ebook, 18 pages
Published October 6th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
edition languageEnglish
seriesJosh of the Damned

Series stories in the order they were written and should be read:

A MelanieM Review: City of Monsters by Andrea Speed


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

City of MonstersHunter Burrows used to be an insurance investigator on Earth.  But something happened 6 months ago and Hunter  ended up a shifter of unknown species who was transported to Nightshade, a literal city of monsters in a near-Earth dimension called Dev. Nightshade is filled with vampires, weres of all types, zombies, reverse tooth fairies, and yes, even Yetis.  Left somewhat amnesiac by the transition between dimensions, Hunter learns that having a job is high priority and becomes a finder for a fee.  Since Hunter doesn’t know what type of shifter he is, he can pass between territories when on a mission.

Still Hunter is depressed about his new status and, apparently permanent, new city.  He spends his time gambling and drinking, taking jobs when necessary to eat and pay the rent.  But all that changes when Hunter runs into a new arrival in Nightshade.  Sakari Karim has just been transported into Nightshade and Hunter fears leaving a “newbie” alone on the streets.  Plus it doesn’t hurt that Sakura is handsome and gay as well.

When Hunter is pressed into looking for the twin brother of a reverse tooth fairy, Sakura comes along to help.  Will Sakari change Hunter’s luck?  Will Hunter and Sakari ever find out what type of weres they are?  Is romance in the cards for Hunter and Sakari?   Take a trip into the city of Nightshade for the answers and a ton of fun too!

I am a fan of Andrea Speed.  From Infected‘s Roan to Josh of the Damned and all manner of creatures in between, Andrea Speed’s inventive and somewhat warped mind continues to create some of the funniest, wildest, and over the top species and worlds around.

In City of Monsters, Speed returns to her Josh of the Damned universe, a place ruled by Medusa, the god who runs this particular universe.  Nightshade the city is full of dark towers, condominiums for the unearthly, the slums of Dog Town where packs of werewolves roam and trash piles up to the ordered and upscale vampire district where vampire run casinos are always open and suckers are not always willing.  All types of beings go about their businesses here, including several that we have meet before in the Josh of the Damned series, like the lizard people, the reverse tooth  fairies and the Yeti.  I couldn’t have been happier to have them back.

Into this maelstrom of the supernatural and unearthly are plopped former human beings who were unlucky enough to have a magical animal attack/encounter on Earth and have been transformed into a type of were or supernatural being.  Upon being bitten or what have you, the unlucky person is transferred to Dev almost immediately, losing most of their memories in the process.  What a shock to the system and that has made Hunter an unhappy boy!  I love that Speed brings this weirdly attractive and out of whack place vividly to life.   Nightshade itself is easily pictured from the clear images her descriptions convey.  There is the classy vampire district that lies next to Dog Town, a smelly place where the werewolves pee constantly marking their territory and the buildings resemble that of a slum.  The intersection of Pierce Avenue and Barker Lane mark the division of territories…of course!  The vampire boss of the casino is  called Macula (duh) whose gang of poseurs calls itself Bloody Monday, a criminal gang called the Lobos that operates out of dog town, and Mustafa, a vegan vampire who faints at the sight of blood and favors Hawaiian shirts, sno cones,  while trying to stay out of everyones way.

In Andrea Speed’s world, no detail is too small to play with, no large element too big to get its own makeover ala Nightshade style.  It’s funny, sometimes priceless and yes, there’s a romance as well.  Hunter is depressed, lonely, and constantly plagued by his possessed blender for fresh fruit to make smoothies. Yep, one of the funniest characters is Blender, a happy, fruit loving blender with a need to please and make delightful concoctions.  A true favorite of mine! Back to Hunter, he is also an out of control gambler who tries to forget his woes at the local vampire casinos, never a good idea.  His occupation?  He finds things, creatures, what ever you want because he can cross territories that others cannot.  We don’t get a lot of back history on Hunter or even Sakari, because we can’t.  The trip in between dimensions robs them of their memories of their past lives for the most part.  So Nightshade really represents a tabula rasa for them.  It will be what they make of it, if they survive that is.

I wish that Hunter and Sakari had more time together to make the burgeoning romance between them more a thing of  sexual heat and attraction than circumstance and availability.  I really liked what I learned of Sakari, including an ongoing need for an adrenaline rush.  Had this story been enlarged a bit to include more of their new life together, that would have made their relationship feel more authentic than it does in places here.  But if the romance comes across a little less substantial, Speed makes up for it with her hysterical and addictive characters.  Terry the reverse tooth fairy missing her twin brother Larry. Wulf the head of the Lobo gang and all are unable to make their cell phones work.  Why?  No one is sure but “they bet Verizon is involved”.

I laughed, I guffawed, and had to keep going back to reread certain paragraphs that I missed because I was giggling too hard to read.  I only wish that Josh and the others had shown up as well.  Then this would have been perfect.  As it is Dev and the city of Nightshade are locations that I can never visit frequently enough.  I leave the stories wanting more of the characters, their wild new lives, and wanting to see all the city inhabitants I haven’t met yet.  I want to know where the Yetis live and the lizard people too.  More I say, much, much more, please!

If you are looking for romance alone, this might not be the story for you.  But if you love to laugh, enjoy clever jokes and a neat turn of phrase , zany storylines, as well as characters you will never forget, then Andrea Speed should be a “go to”  author for you.  Enjoy the insanely delicious bon mots that are tossed here and there, the cultural references obscure and common, and the creativity that flows from start to end.  I loved it and read it twice to get all the bits and pieces I missed the first time around.  For bonus stories, also pick up the Josh of the Damned stories, short reads all but irresistibly hard to put down.

Cover art by Simone.  Loved it, what a fun graphic!

Note:  This title is part of the My Haunted Blender’s Gay Love Affair, and Other Twisted Tales collection. – See more at Riptide Publishing City of Monsters page. 
Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing          All Romance eBooks (ARe)         Amazon             City of Monsters

Andrea Speed’s Josh of the Damned series include:

Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #1
Peek-A-Boo (Josh of the Damned #2)
Josh of the Damned #3.5: Night of the Dust Bunnies
Josh of the Damned Triple Feature #2: The Final Checkout

Book Details:

ebook, 80 pages
Published August 11th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
original titleCity of Monsters
edition languageEnglish